Reason for the Season HOME Challenge

For the next four weeks leading up to Christmas, HealaSister will participate in the Reason for the Season Challenge. During the holiday season, there is so much focus on buying stuff. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not against giving gifts and making the season jolly. Our intention is just to provide some tips for relieving stress and call to memory that Jesus really is the reason for the season. The challenge is geared to help us focus on Christ and find real joy for the season, instead of spending money. So, for the next four weeks we have partnered with Katy Sykes at www.wifemotherfirstlady.com to challenge readers to focus on the family and the home. HealaSister will post challenges to help you focus on the home and make Christ the center of your home.

This time of year can get a little crazy. Our schedules often overflow with parties, shopping, and other events. Media does everything it can to get us in the spirit of buying. We spend time shopping in packed stores with long lines buying gifts we can’t afford. If we are not careful, the holiday season will be stressful instead of joyous. After all, that’s what we’re really looking for anyway. Joy.

Joy is not something you can buy. You will not find it in jewelry, clothes, or any other stuff. You will not find it at the mall or at a holiday party. Sure, you can have a good time with friends shopping and partying. Getting those designer shoes for half price is a good feeling too but those events supply only temporary excitement and fun. Real joy comes from the joy giver himself, Jesus Christ.

Today I challenge you to take a few minutes to focus on the real reason for the season. Prepare your heart and mind for celebrating the birth of our Savior. Set the atmosphere in your home. I have an area in my home where I pray and thank God. I light candles and meditate on who God is. I thank Him for the gift of Jesus Christ.

Today I’m reading some verses from one of my favorite Christmas hymns; Joy to the World.
Joy to the world, the LORD is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy

After researching this song, I discovered that the author, Isaac Watts, did not write these words with Christmas in mind. It was a poem he wrote to shine light on Christ’s final return. Somewhere along the way it was put to music and today we sing it to honor and celebrate the birth of our Savior. Nevertheless, it fits the occasion and I hope it brings warmth and meaning to your home for the season.
Don’t forget to visit www.wifemotherfirstlady.com for more on the Reason for the Season FAMILY challenge.

Nativity scene picture by Jeff Wesse(Creative Commons)

Learning to Live and Love from Animals

There may be no better depiction of unconditional love than that given by a pet.  If you own an animal as a pet, you know what I’m talking about.  My dog Charlie does not care which side of the track I come from or how I look. He’s always happy when I come around.  He gives me love and he receives love from me with no strings attached.

The intimate friendships we develop with our pets have the ability to affect us physically, socially, and even spiritually.  There are numerous stories of animals improving the lives of people.  Some have credited dogs with discovering cancers, seizures and even diabetes.  Horses have helped children with autism improve their language skills, balance and/or posture, as well as muscle coordination.  Animals can lift our spirits and improve our quality of life.  I can attest to that.

For the past two years I’ve been taking horse-back riding lessons.  This is a picture of Dolly the horse I ride.

I have learned so much from this horse.  She’s shown me the importance of patience while learning something new.   Her ability to alleviate my anxiousness and help me relax is just mind-blowing.  It’s difficult for me to express the calm free feeling I get when I’m on her back riding.  All I can say is there is definitely a connection.

I can say for certain my life is better because I’ve spent time with these animals.  I hope I add as much to their lives as they add to mine.

Has an animal or pet positively influenced your life in some way?  Share your story.

Are You Smarter Than a 5th or 6th Grader?

Recently I volunteered to help my niece and nephew with their homework. You see,  their mother is a school teacher and student herself (she’s working on a master’s degree).  Sometimes everyone in the house has a project or paper to complete and things get a little hectic.  So, I thought I would stop in and help out for an hour or so.   An hour turned into almost three hours.

OMG!  I could not believe how much homework they both had.  Both had math and science work to complete and both had reading assignments.  We started with the math.  Now I’m pretty good at math so I was confident I could quickly explain it and we would move on.  Then I looked at the questions and thought, hummm…did I  learn this when I was in school, let me see.  There were fractions and integers, prime numbers and exponents,  and the Pythagorean Theorem. When did fifth and sixth grade math become so advanced?   After about ten minutes of reviewing I was able to start “helping”.  About forty-five minutes passed and we were done with the math portion.  Thank God! Now on to the science part of the night.

Most of the science work involved reading and answering questions related to physical or life science. When the kids finished, we were already at least one and one-half hours into the homework process.  While they each read their respective chapter readings,  I looked on their schedules.   I saw that both kids needed to practice their instruments. I thought, “you gotta be kidding me!”  Lawd, how in the world do they fit all this into one night?

When my sister peaked in to check on us, I asked her how she kept up with her work, homework, and the kids assignments and activities.  Of course her husband helps out when he’s not traveling.  Mostly they stick to a schedule. They live very structured lives and they work on the weekends a little to stay on course.

Before leaving,  I committed to helping out more in the future.  Once home, I was exhausted.  Being a mother is no joke.  Especially if you’re going to raise smart, well-behaved, educated, kind, etc…children.

If you’re a mother, how do you get it all done and stay sane?  Please, do tell!

Veteran’s Day

Today I’m lighting candles and saying a prayer for all our veterans.  The challenges faced by veterans and their families are ones you and I can only imagine.  Many of them have physical and mental disabilities which are a direct result of their military service.  After serving,  many military men and women return home and find it difficult to secure employment or find that their families have suffered hunger or homelessness in their absence. There are approximately 67.000 homeless veterans in America.  They comprise 12% of the homeless population in our country.

If you would like to help, visit www.joinforces.gov and find out how you can make a difference.

Doing Good Really Does Pay.

These days, its hard to find a free moment. With work and all the other responsibilities we have, it’s especially difficult to find the time to do the things that truly bring us joy.  The do good things that make you feel good inside. Things like volunteering at the local homeless shelter, helping an elderly neighbor with their yard, or taking the time to exercise and maintain a healthy body.  Well now there is a site that not only helps you create quality time in you life but also rewards you for doing so.  Yes, you can do the things that make you feel good and reap rewards at the same time.

At dailyfeats.com you can find ideas on how to improve your life and the lives of others, all while collecting rewards that help you continue the cycle to do good.  Are you sticking to your budget?  There’s a reward for that!  Did you become an organ donor? There’s a reward for that!  Have you started doing push ups? There’s a reward for that!  Anything you do good earns you points.  Collect the reward points and take your family out to dinner, buy yourself some new shoes, or even donate the points to prevent cancer.  Just check in every time you do good and watch the reward points grow.  Now you get it?  No good deed goes unrewarded .

It’s free to sign up.  Just visit  http://dailyfeats.com/partner/healasister and sign up with promo code healasister50 for 50 extra free points.  Just in time for the holidays!  Now get out there and do some good!

Holiday Sleigh Ride

On December 3, 2011 the Mosaic Women’s Ministry at The Church Without Walls in Houston, Texas will host a Holiday Sleigh Ride. The women will board a luxury bus and make several stops around the city.  Please join us for a festive day of shopping, sharing and spreading Christmas cheer.  Visit the church website www.churchwithoutwalls.org  to purchase your tickets and obtain details about this wonderful event.  We hope to see you there!

Dedicated To The Well-Being Of All Women